But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion.
Context is so important when reading the Bible! Take the story of the Good Samaritan for instance (Luke 10:25-37). Everyone knows the story: a man being kind to a stranger. But there is more to the story. Jesus told it in response to a question from a lawyer: “Who is my neighbor?” (verse 29) That is, since the Law says “love your neighbor” (Leviticus 19:18), who is my neighbor? Who am I bound to love?
Jesus answered the question with a story: A Jew was set upon by robbers who stole his goods and left him for dead. Two Jewish religious leaders passed by and ignored the man’s plight. But when a cultural enemy of the man came by—a Samaritan—he stopped to help the injured man. The Samaritan “had compassion” on the man. He bound the man’s wounds, took him to an inn, and paid for his care. The Samaritan used what resources he had with him—oil, wine, money—to meet the injured stranger’s needs. Jesus’ point: Compassion is based not on wealth or party lines; it is based on a willingness to help with whatever we have.
Who is your neighbor? On whom can you have compassion today? If your resources match another’s need, do what you can.
My neighbor is anyone whose need I see, whose need God puts me in a position to meet.